Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe presents its summer 2016 show, How I Got Over: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson, which runs July 13 – August 14, 2016. The musical revue is an original production created by WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs to honor Jackson, “The Queen of Gospel.”
Mahalia Jackson , 1911-1972, is recognized as one of the most influential gospel singers in the world who was, at the height of her career, described by Harry Belafonte as “the single most powerful black woman in the United States.” Influenced by church hymns as well as blues artists such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, Jackson recorded around 30 albums and, among her 45 record releases, scored a dozen “golds” (selling a million or more). She worked with some of the biggest artists of the time and earned several Grammy awards, including one awarded posthumously for lifetime achievement. She was also a noted civil rights activist: she sang at the 1963 March on Washington at the request of Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. and later at Dr.King’s funeral.
“This musical revue focuses on the powerful role gospel music has played in the lives and experiences of African-Americans,” said WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs. “Along with the music of Mahalia Jackson, we’ll celebrate the music of many gospel greats such as The Caravans, Albertina Walker, Dorothy Love Coates, Shirley Caesar, Tommy Dorsey and more.”
Jacobs added that dancers including some WBTT favorites and new guest artists will add inspiring visual excitement to the powerful singing of more than 30 traditional gospel songs that range from solemn hymns to upbeat, high-energy pieces that depict the spirit of an old-time church revival.
Cast members include Jacobs, Ariel Blue, Bri- an L. Boyd, Victoria Byrd, Jeffery Cason, Jr., Earley Dean, Derric Gobourne, Jr., Tarra Conner jones, Elaine Mayo, Antrell McDowell, Neyce Pierre, Josh Thompson and Topaz von Wood. The artists will be backed by WBTT’s fabulous band: James E Dodge II on bass, Todd Bellamy on piano, Jamar Camp on auxiliary keyboard, and Donald Watts on drums.
Jacobs will direct; scenic design by Michael Newton-Brown, production manager and music director James E. Dodge II, lighting design by Justin Morris, production stage manager Juanita Munford, choreographer Donald Frison, music consultant Tony Moon, and property master Annette Breazeale.
As a special treat , WBTT will offer a one-night only BBQ event on Saturday, August 6 with dinner from Nancy’s Bar-B-Q and a post-show talk back. Patrons are encouraged to call or visit the Box Office for $5 off the dinner/ticket bundle for this special event.
Performances, which take place at the WBTT theater (1646 10th Way, Sarasota) are 8pm Wednesday-Saturday with 2pm matinees on Sunday. Tickets are $35/adults, $25/students or active military with valid ID. Call the Box Office (941-366-1505) or go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.